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MMTC Pitches Dems on Backing Main Studio Rule Sunset

Multicultural Media, Telecom & Internet Council President Emeritus David Honig talked with top aides to FCC Democratic Commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Mignon Clyburn to encourage the commissioners to at least concur with a Republican-backed proposal to eliminate the main studio rule.

That is according to a filing with the FCC on the phone calls.

The FCC's agenda was released Tuesday (Oct. 17) and on it was a scheduled vote on the proposal to no longer require TV and radio stations to maintain a main studio "in or near" its community of license.

The FCC—then only three members—voted back in May to propose eliminating the rule. This vote will be all five, including Rosenworcel and new Republican Commissioner Brendan Carr.

Clyburn voted for the proposal, but said she had concerns it was embracing a world of remote, automated national programming as the new normal.

In conversation with the Democratic aides, Honig said that minorities, who got into broadcasting later than others due to historic barriers, wound with stations "serving large markets with inferior, often multiple suburban locations each requiring its own main studio while non-minority broadcasters who got into broadcasting earlier could also serve large markets with several stations each operating from a single downtown studio."

MMTC called that a "Tax on Blackness and Brownness" that drove capital from minority entrepreneurs.

MMTC, which has operated stations donated to it and used to train minority and women managers, said it has concluded the rule is no longer needed.

"While the FCC should ensure that all broadcasters provide program service that meets local needs, the methods by which they do so should be left to the discretion and creativity of broadcasters," he told them. He wants them to at worst concur, which is short of a dissent but less than full-throated support, though a vote with three "yeahs" and two concurrences is still considered unanimous.